Mayor: Top travel destination honor is boost to S.F. Olympic bid

Although San Francisco is vying against Los Angeles and Chicago to become the nation’s candidate for the 2016 Olympics, city officials have their minds on the rest of the world as they trumpet a new honor bestowed upon The City.

While U.S. Olympic Committee officials have spent the last several months questioning officials from the three cities about their ability to logistically coordinate more than 10,000 athletes and several million spectators, they are likely considering each city’s desirability as a destination for international travelers as well.

That is one reason San Francisco officials publicly touted the news Tuesday that The City had earned the distinction of being the No. 1 city to visit in the United States for the 14th consecutive year, according to the readers of Condé Nast Traveler, a London-based publication.

The competing cities were judged in multiple categories, including ambiance, friendliness, culture, sites, restaurants, lodging and shopping.

“As we continue in the process to bring the 2016 Olympics to San Francisco, this award helps show how much we would have to offer as we work to invite the world in 2016, as host of the games,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a news release about the magazine honor, circulated by his office.

Hoping to boost its chance at an international bid for the 2016 Summer Games, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa traveled last month to London, which is hosting the 2012 games, and this month visited officials in Beijing, which is hosting the 2008 Olympics. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley returned Wednesday from his own fact-finding trip to Athens, the host of the 2004 Olympics.

Newsom’s spokesman, Peter Ragone, said Newsom already had made such trips on behalf of San Francisco’s bid — but in 2005, before the city selection process had began.

<p>"We did our homework early in the process," Ragone said. "Mayor Newsom wanted to know what needed to be done, what the U.S. Olympic Committee would find important and essential in a bid."

San Francisco’s proposed plan for the 2016 Olympics includes a rebuilt stadium at Candlestick Point for the opening and closing ceremonies and new housing for Olympic athletes at the former Hunters Point Shipyard.

Newsom rejects accounting request

Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office refused a request by one supervisor to provide a summary of the number of hours staff has spent working on San Francisco’s Olympic bid and an estimation of the bid’s potential costs.

Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, who has publicly expressed concern that the costs associated with the Olympics would outweigh the benefits, asked the Mayor’s Office in July to provide documents or summary statements related to the “costs associated with pursuing the 2016 Olympics.”

Sandoval’s request was denied on the basis that there was no legal obligation to provide such summaries, according to mayoral spokeswoman Jennifer Petrucione.

“Therefore, there is no requirement that a written summary be provided,” she wrote in a memo to Sandoval.

Sandoval told The Examiner that staff from the Mayor’s Office of Workforce and Economic Development, the communications office and The City Attorney’s Office has worked on the bid.

“They have either devoted significant staff time to studying this issue, in order to commit San Francisco to this venture, or they have committed us without any kind of thinking and research,” Sandoval wrote in an e-mail. “But if the mayor does not want to cooperate, as is so often the norm, then there is not much the Board of Supervisors can do for the time being.”

While not providing an estimation of bid costs, Scott Givens, managing director of the San Francisco 2016 Bid Committee, said the domestic and international bids would be financed privately. If San Francisco is chosen, some of the estimated $2.5 billion cost to stage the summer games would be picked up by federal and state taxpayer dollars, he said, but none from San Francisco’s coffers.

beslinger@examiner.comBay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

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